29th September 2004

To Angelita

My dear,

I was so touched by your query: “how are you?” Here, I thought, was a compassionate soul, yearning for an intimate understanding, a deeper bond with another human being, and moreover with myself! All my heartache was washed away for a brief moment, my faith in humanity restored, my capacity to hope was brought to its feet and given strength again. Good god, if that moment could have lasted!

But I read further, and the darker truth of your message was revealed. Your question was a shallow ruse, a mere design to draw my curiosity. You cared nothing for me; you did not long to know the secrets that lay at the dark bottom of the well of my soul. You were only interested in “part time relationships” for you and your friends, the “horny lonely ladies”.

Ah, Angelita, I still believe! I believe that you, too, wish for more. That you are not content merely with someone to “bangg for tonight”. Your heart stirs for more, it, too, rebels at its own emptiness. You try to fill that void with pure sensuality, sensation, but you know that it never can be. These passions are too strong for mere lust to overcome, Angelita. You know that, I know you do!

Yours, heartbroken,

Saurabh

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27th September 2004

$50, baby!

Oil is trading at $49.74/bbl (for U.S. light crude) today, based on some other nonsense in Nigeria. With all this flirting one has to believe that there’s some taboo people are afraid to break… maybe oil price will asymptotically approach $50 but never reach it. One day on the exchange floor some greenhorn will, in a pique of overexcitement, wave his fistful of bids in the air and shout “Fifty!” Silence descends on the floor: someone has spoken the forbidden number. Some turn to stare at the suddenly abashed trader, but most just look uncomfortably at their shoes. Then, slowly, the murmuring of the crowd begins again, and trading resumes; the shout is forgotten.

But that’s silly. Of COURSE oil will hit $50. It’s only a matter of when… (Betting pool, anyone? Winter travel season is coming up…). At this point you wonder, “Why aren’t our thoughtless, heartless, gutless leaders doing anything about this?” Well, don’t get your knickers in a twist, it turns out they already may have.

The press likes to play Kerry’s indecision as mastery of nuance, but I think Kerry is merely a confused liberal idiot. Bush is the real master, able to blend a myriad forms of greed and hubris into one coherent ideology, the Iraq War, obviously, being the centerpiece of this bit of brilliance. Consider: in one fell swoop, they struck a blow for Zionism, Christianity, American hegemony, militarism, colonialism, war-profiteering, and, of course, oil. N.B. this ZNet article about Iraq’s oil, and declassified documents showing that Cheney’s secret energy task force carefully studied Iraq’s fields and who had a stake in them.

Of course, the brilliance of their strategy seems to be breaking down somewhat, and the prospect of actually getting any oil out of Iraq seems highly dubious. But one has to admire the sheer audacity, the bollocks it takes to conceive such a simple and brilliant scheme to solve the nation’s energy woes:

“It’s fucking genius, George! We’ll just STEAL IT!”

UPDATE: In case you missed it, the U.S. light crude price briefly flitted above $50 shortly after I wrote this. No betting pool, sorry…

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22nd September 2004

The other forgery

While we’re taking a moment to publicly dress down Dan Rather for his shoddy journalism, let’s pause and remember that other recent bit of high-profile forgery. You know, the one that led us to war?

In fact, the analogy is quite perfect: we can call one the “little forgery” and the other, the “big forgery”. In both cases the identity of the forger remains obscure. I’m not sure who the little forger was – I haven’t been paying enough attention and I’m frankly not all that interested. The identity of the big forger remains undisclosed but is probably known.

Sometime in 2001, according to UN investigators, an individual in Niger’s embassy in Rome passed the documents on to Italian intelligence, from whence they mave have traveled to France, and later on to the U.S, and Britain. It’s probable that this individual forged the documents as a way of making money, though no one is telling. The notion was apparently conceived based on a tour of Africa Iraq’s ambassador to Italy took in 1999.

However, the documents have been blamed on a number of people. Iran has been blamed (based on an Iranian idiom in the forged documents), and bigots at Counterpunch asked rhetorically, “Could it be Israel?” Italy, doing a bit of CYA, even accused the French, saying that the French had probably planted them in order to make the US and its allies look ridiculous. (The US tried a similar version of that dodge a while ago – I think I even mentioned it here – when they claimed that Iran had used Ahmed Chalabi to dupe the US into getting rid of Saddam for them. Okay, chief. We’ll believe you, but you have to stop using the term “intelligence services” from now on.)

The documents themselves were obvious forgeries, with a number of blatant mistakes and many subtle ones, e.g. photocopied letterhead, a postmark that preceded the date of the letter, references to non-existent agencies and the signature of an official who had been gone for a decade. The CIA was immediately skeptical and urged the British not to use it in their summaries; they qualified it in many of their reviews. Compare to the little forgery, where experts expressed doubts about the authenticity of the forged memos.

And, just like in the little forgery, the interested parties ignored these caveats and continued to present the evidence as sound. Mohammad ElBaradei, chief of the IAEA, said the documents were ridiculous forgeries. This prompted Dick Cheney to come out and baldly state, “I think Mr. Elbaradei is, frankly, wrong.” Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Rice all made reference to “Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium from abroad”. And George W. Bush made famous mention of it in his State of the Union address. Only Powell was more circumspect, omitting it from his UN speech where he detailed the case against Iraq (Tellingly, he included a lot of other total garbage in that speech, like mentioning al-Zarqawi as an Iraqi link to al-Qaida even though i) al-Zarqawi is not al-Qaida and ii) he was in the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq at the time and could easily have been dispatched by the US).

The CIA has made it abundantly clear that it knew the document was false. They sent Joseph Wilson to Niger to verify it, and he came back and told them it was crap. On several occasions they attempted to censure it, including persuading George Bush not to mention it in a speech. So it’s clear that the doubts about its authenticity were well-known to Administration officials. They were simply ignored.

Remember that this was one of the strongest arguments for going to war: the threat of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. And that, of course, is where the little forgery and the big forgery diverge. One involved an incident of no great importance thirty years in the past. The other precipitated one of the great calamities of modern history that continues to trouble us today. Is there any doubt which should matter most in this election?

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17th September 2004

Preparing for the Bush Presidency

I’m wholly convinced that Bush is going to win.

The Democrats must have rocks in their heads. This is the twenty-first century! You can convince anyone of anything! People believe absolute untruth with wholehearted conviction simply due to media manipulation. Plus, better than half the press is enormously sympathetic to the Democrats. Meanwhile, John Kerry, that halfwit fuckknob, is going around trying to win by saluting the electorate. To quote the Evil One, “I mean, are we not in the hands of a lunatic?”

So, take it for granted that the Bush campaign will prove successful, barring cosmic catastrophe, like an invasion by pretzel-wielding alien hordes. How shall we face these upcoming four years?

Undisputably, in a second Bush Administration the holds will be unbarred on Israel. And once the Jews have secured the Promised Land, this will open the gates for the Apocalypse. The subsequent chain of events is well familiar: the Rapture, the rise to prominence of the Anti-Christ, the Final War and the Last Judgement.

Now is probably a good time for us to start picking sides.

At first this seems relatively straightforward. After all, Jesus is a good guy, right? He was a hippie, communist, pacifist, anti-capitalist. The Bible would have us believe he was okay with imperialism, but I think this was a later edit by fascist apologists, or cowards attempting to ingratiate themselves with the Roman authorities. So, Jesus is a pretty groovy guy, all around.

On the other hand, the system of government promised is clearly a dictatorship, with Jesus ruling as King on His Throne, and I’m just not down with that. Even the relatively democratic and communist stewardship of the Apostles in first-century Jerusalem smacked of democratic centralism and other Leninist concepts. Leo Tolstoy argues that Jesus promotes anarchism, since no man should rule over another, but I think he’s being naïve; the model Jesus prescribed and that his followers implemented clearly demonstrates delegation of authority to specific human beings, which is a de facto concentration of power, even if that authority is supposedly derived from the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Let’s see what the other guy is offering.

Satan is unequivocally an anarchist. His falling out with God was over the whole question of free will – Satan wanted it, and was punished for demanding it by ejection from heaven. But he’s also been consistently portrayed as viewing humanity with malice, despising them for being beloved by God above the angels.

But we have to consider the possibility that this is simply propaganda.

After all, God’s clearly got the upper hand. In terms of material resources, He’s way ahead of Satan. It would be relatively easy for Him to present distorted images of the settlement Satan is willing to make with humanity, just like the United States can present whatever image it wants of the Iraqi resistance. In fact, we might suspect that the only reason God hasn’t won outright is that He made the foolish move of deciding that there would be no sex in heaven, which probably sends the great majority of the people in the world over to Satan’s camp right away. Definitely sex in hell, and it’s probably pretty kinky.

I don’t feel that this question need be decided immediately, but we should at least begin airing these issues in preparation for the inevitable.

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16th September 2004

Surreality

Every once in a while, it’s good to step back and take a look at the world for a moment just to reassure yourself that it is, in fact, as crazed and Escheresque as you believed.

This week, the entire country is in uproar over typewriters. Pages and pages are being written about kerning, proportional fonts, superscripting characters, and the history and development of Times New Roman.

This is bizarre.

YOU are not bizarre because you don’t give a fuck about typewriters, and you think that this fascination with typewriters is cracked. You’re correct. Only a lunatic, a twisted headcase, could think that the differences between the IBM Selectric and the IBM Executive have dramatic implications. Only a madman would obsess about these things compared to a thousand other tragedies of infinitely greater magnitude preoccupying the world, could ignore all the travesty in this decadent giant and zero in with such a singular focus on the totally banal workings of a mechanical writing device.

We’re all getting warped by our prism, here. Step back, peel the lens from your eyes. Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Go outside. It’s a large world, larger than you might remember. It’s full of life. It’s full of many dreams, some dark, some dreadful, some hopeful. Forget about typewriters. There’s so much more, can you see it?

Breathe…

posted by saurabh in Galloping idiocy, Insanity | 0 Comments

15th September 2004

September 11th Retrospective

A bit late with this, but what can you do?

Okay, revisiting Conspiracy Alley, here:

I read a bit today about the former head of the ISI, Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad, who apparently ordered $100,000 wired to Mohammad Atta via Saeed Sheikh (later convicted and sentenced for killing Daniel Pearl) over a period of time, some of it quite soon before the attacks. This information came via Indian intelligence to the FBI, who confirmed it and apparently put pressure on Musharraf, since Ahmad (along with others) was subsequently sacked and now seems to be under house arrest.

Even MORE interesting was that Ahmad was in town Sep. 4-11th and had meetings with some top people, including Sen. Bob Graham, Powell, and Sen. Porter Goss, Bush’s new CIA appointee. In fact, he was having breakfast with Goss ON Sep. 11th when Goss got news of the attacks! Holy shit! That seems just a LITTLE high on my weird-shit-o-meter.

A Pakistani newspaper snidely comments on Sep. 10th that the last time an ISI head was in Washington for this long having secret meetings with head-honchos, there was a coup in Pakistan. Does the U.S. run ISI? It’s a pretty safe bet the ISI is running a number of Islamist terrorist organizations, e.g. Jaish-i-Mohammed, Laskhar-e-Taiba, et al. Is the U.S. beating its own sock puppet in this whole “War on Terrorism” thing?

I’ll leave the obvious statements about 9/11 unsaid.

Holy SHIT am I cynical.

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12th September 2004

What, AGAIN?!

It seems likely we are going to invade Iran.

This seems even more ridiculous than the idea that we might invade Iraq (which, if you haven’t been paying attention, we’ve already done). Consider: We “had beef” with Saddam for well over a decade before we invaded. Iraq was weakened by sanctions, had a shell of a military and no infrastructure to speak of. There was no internal opposition to Saddam, since he was so effective at killing it off. He was probably going to hold on to power for a long time, and he was relatively easy to remove.

Iran, contrariwise, is a regional power both economically and militarily. The clerical regime is not popular with its citizens. It came to power on a very thin mandate, riding the coat-tails of a revolution that probably included more Communists than Shi’a Islamists. It seems likely that it’s going to fall apart on its own merit; an invasion, on the other hand, would result in an even bigger clustrem fucki than the sadness in Iraq.

However, mystifyingly, despite the clear example of how badly this business can go wrong, a lot of the same rumblings can be heard about Iran that we were treated to regarding Iraq in 2002. It’s a sponsor of terrorism, it’s seeking nuclear weapons, it’s a totalitarian state that oppresses its people, etc., etc.

George W. Bush finally admitted the reason he invaded Iraq in his RNC speech. All that stuff and nonsense about weapons of mass destruction aside (which, to be fair, he gave scant mention to), he laid out clearly the doctrine that Paul Wolfowitz has been patiently explaining to us all throughout, viz., the Democratic Domino theory. In brief, the establishment of a strong democracy in Iraq will inspire Arabs (and I suppose Persians) to reject the totalitarian regimes ruling them and overthrow them; the Middle East will thus become revitalized by a democratic rennaissance and the introduction of Freedom, strip malls, McDonalds, and what-have-you. It’s unfortunate that the motivation for fomenting this democratic chain-reaction is the greater security it will provide the state of Israel because democratic regimes are less likely to encourage terrorism (cf. the United States), rather than the freedom and greater happiness of the oppressed populations, and unfortunate that many of those oppressive regimes are U.S. clients, but still the democratic domino theory seems a worthy idea. Democracy > Dictatorship.

On those lines an invasion of Iran seems like absolutely the WRONG thing to do. Iran is the prime candidate in the region for an internal revolution – and in the seat of the original Islamic Revolution, it would be enormously influential if the population rejected that revolution and chose democracy. Far more so than the installment of “democracy” in Iraq, where it may easily be conflated with subsurvience to U.S. power. Invading Iran to introduce democracy would instantly kill any credibility that an indigenous revolution would have. Why do it, then?

On the one hand you might believe that Iran will quickly become a danger to the United States if it acquires nuclear weapons and so on. But I don’t think that the Bush administration seriously believes their rhetoric about the danger of Iranian (or previously, Iraqi) aggression. Far more plausible is that George W. Bush used the wrong adjective to describe those dominoes. That is, what he’s interested in achieving is not democracy, but the very same subsurvience to U.S. power.

There’s no reason to believe that a home-grown revolution in Iran would achieve that purpose. In fact, it seems like it would do a great deal to resurrect the serpent of nationalism that we spent the past 50 years killing in the form of Nasserite Pan-Arabism. Why wait and let the Iranians get it wrong on their own, when we can get it right for them?

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9th September 2004

A brief aside

Friends*, permit me to wade into the bog, the festering pit, the putrescent field of muck and decay that is presidential politics.

I happened to read about Scott McClellan defending Bush’s record on the whole National Guard service thingy. Viz:

Briefing reporters on Air Force One on the way to a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Mr. McClellan said the president would never have been honorably discharged from the Texas National Guard, if he had not satisfactorily met his military obligations.

He said these are the same attacks that are made every time Mr. Bush is up for election. The White House spokesman said Democratic challenger John Kerry “will do anything he can to avoid defending his record.”

Now, I really don’t give a flying hoochie-koochie what Bush did when he was in or out of the National Guard. I don’t care if he was president of the Coke Appreciation Society during his college years, or any such nonsense. This is all irrelevant when we consider that this is the man who INVADED IRAQ FOR GOD’S SAKE!

However, I do find it somewhat odd that Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, is engaging in campaign dickity. Since when is this appropriate use of White House resources? After all, Mr. McClellan is a public servant, appointed by the President, to be sure, but not paid by his campaign staff. Will we next have Executive Orders being made to help incumbents secure the Presidency? Yuck.

In other news, Kerry is BEHIND 42% to Bush’s 51% in a Time magazine poll. Holy cow! How can you lose to that? That’s like coming in behind a horse’s ass in a beauty contest. Or, to be precise, that’s like coming in behind a horse’s ass in a presidential election.

—-

*Sorry – I’ve been listening to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who love this sort of chumminess.

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7th September 2004

A puzzle

So you can exercise your nerdular nerdence: some of you may have seen the billboard on Mass Ave that reads:

{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com

Have fun. Once you solve that, there’s a second puzzle before you get the prize. Here’s the first million digits of e, to speed you on your way.

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5th September 2004

Sugar and snails

Completely fascinating to watch the process of indoctrinating kids into their appropriate gender roles. I’m watching my little cousins – four or five, I think. They’re tearing around madly, squealing and giggling and wrestling with each other. Then a pack of adults descends upon them, separates them carefully, and sternly reprimands Ashwin, the boy, not to play so rough. “Isha got hurt yesterday,” his father tells him. “I got hurt too,” Ashwin mumbles, seeking the same sympathy his cousin receives. “You did? Where?” his father asks, giving him a casual once-over. Isha, meanwhile, wanders off, confused as to why their play has been interrupted.

Interesting philosophical debate: do parents have the right to break this cycle? If it were possible, can I morally make the decision to abstain from gendering my kid, or mis-gendering them, and thus subject them to a lifetime of being socially outcast?

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